Thursday, December 23, 2010

Probably the only empathetic cynic you'll ever meet.

“I’m expecting great things from you,” he said to her as they stood alone in the front yard of the white house that early summer. She doesn't remember what she said, if she said anything at all, but she did think about those words a lot later on as she went to bed that night.
It was a beautiful landscape out in the west part of the county. And a large farmhouse stood by the road.
It was Saturday night. She was about two months shy of her eleventh birthday and awkwardly skinny like a bunch of toothpicks glued together. He was sitting on the patio swing. So she headed out the back door to see him. He was there with his arms crossed watching the sky post sunset. She skipped out the door and landed by plotting down right next to him.
It was a bit past dusk, but still light enough to see outlines in the distance. It was quiet.
“I’m gonna have to go and get the paper,” he said.
“Ok, I’ll walk with you,” she said.
They made it about two thirds of the way. Once they reached the scuppernong vine, he stopped to take a breath, “I don’t think I’ll be able to make it the rest of the way. You’ll have to go yourself and get it for me.”
So she hopped the rest of the way through the yard and across the gravel road to the mailbox.
He was waiting for her when she returned, and she handed the paper to him.
“Thank you,” he said. “You’re a good girl. I’m expecting great things from you.”
And he died the next year.
She always remembered that story because it was the story of her life. How many times had she or would she begin a journey with someone who believed in her, but for whatever reason, would not continue the journey with her. And she would finish the journey alone.
Maybe that's why she's a cynic. Maybe that's why she never trusts for anything, maybe that's why she never expects people to stay or follow through or actually do what they say they will do or be what they could be. Maybe that's why she never expects things to work out. Circumstance, time, and frailty will never allow anyone to finish the journey with her. How many times had she started a journey with someone she thought would stay with her, and for whatever reason, they wouldn't finish it with her, and she went the rest of the way alone?
People will ask you when you think your childhood ended, hers was over when she was eleven. When fairy tale dreams and imaginative happenings became void of possibility by the introduction of death into her world.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

A pondering while gazing through wheezing trees

"You think the dead we love ever truly leave us? You think that we don't recall them more clearly than ever in times of great trouble?"

So profound to think that our wounds of lost loves stay with us forever. So true to think that we only see in retrospect how that pain seeps into every part of our lives. How the influence of a person's life and the influence of that person's death are marks upon our lives forever.

And how sometimes the pain is like a soul-sucking Dementor erasing every good thing we've ever known.

And how sometimes the memories of pain are the forces that urge us on.

And how sometimes those aches are whispers of things we'll never have.

And how true the statement that you will laugh again when something is really really funny.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

I wish I knew

I’m so confused and I don’t know how to believe. Why do we get to pick and choose what should be literal and what should only be realized through cultural context?
The Bible says women cannot have leadership over men. The Bible says wives submit to husbands. Bible also says Christians submit to each other. Bible also says there is neither male nor female, all are one in Christ. The Bible promotes equality and illustrates female leadership in churches and society and family. Why are these few verses taken literally, while the others have explanations? Why not the other way around? If a woman is not allowed leadership over a man, why is it okay for her to be a teacher or a CEO, but not a pastor? Is the excuse that she only can’t have leadership in the church? So does that mean that we are to live separate lives? The rules we abide by in church, we don’t have to abide by in the world? What about in the New Testament when women were church leaders? What about the women who financially supported Jesus’ ministry?
Women have been shown to be the backbone and the muscle of how religion is practiced. The Catholic Church remains adamant that the priesthood is not for women, yet the lack of male clergy forces female laity to conduct services and take care of all the day to day activities of the church in local settings. But to receive the ordination is never to happen. I do not believe God allowed for this exclusion.
As for roles in the home, I agree that men and women have separate responsibilities and innate abilities the other doesn’t have. I still don’t see the connection of the wife’s subordination to the husband always having final say. If he’s a Christian, why does he not also practice the command of Christians (referring to both male and female) to submit to each other? Shouldn’t it be 100% both ways? Then why does the submission issue even have to matter? Besides, if the wife stays home all day and basically runs it while the husband is out working, why is she not the “head of the household?” I’m so confused.
Why is it a big deal whether or not a woman wants to work? If a woman chooses what she wants to do, why does anyone else get a say in it? Why can’t I make my decision to stay home all day or to stay away from home all day and have everyone else not care? It’s none of your business.
Should I be addressing these issues because I’m simply not happy with them? Would God ordain things that make us feel oppressed? I certainly think so. But I don’t think that ends this issue. Why is it a problem for me to question? It’s not like I’ve been researching this for 40 years and still digging. It’s just that for the first time, I don’t want to accept something because somebody told me it was so.
I don’t believe that either gender is by design stronger, smarter, more spiritually gifted, better, weaker or more susceptible to frailty than the other. I believe the Bible needs to be reread, researched, and realized again.
I’m at a place where I’m unsure of where I stand on an issue, and I think God likes my questions, welcomes my questions, loves that I use the brain he gave me instead of being shaped my anyone who desires to do so. I know he can handle my questions. I hope you can to. For there will be more to come.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Simile is not for poets because poets see things as they is,

not as they like. - Shirlette Ammons

Sometimes I wonder what would have become of me if I didn't sell my keyboard. How I miss the way the keys would do what I told them to. Now I have the feel of a different kind of keyboard under my fingers, and I'm very happy with that, but I still wonder. What if I kept that keyboard and actually practiced the music I learned how to read so well? What if I kept that keyboard and let it teach my voice how to match it? In the back of my mind, I still have dreams of playing. Singing. Now I keep thinking it's too late.

I have other dreams. I write and I travel to coffee shops and bars and living rooms and libraries and I read what I write.

I've never been upset at my circumstances. I've never blamed anyone else for the way I am or the way I went. If I wished things were different, I would only be angry at myself. No one forced me into a decision, only I had the power to change something or continue in it. And if I was forced, only I could allow such a force upon me. My circumstances were only doing their jobs. So I guess what I mean is - if I want to play piano, there's a way for me to play the piano. And if I'm not playing the piano, I should stop making excuses for myself.

I love how one can always tell who the writers are. It's like going to an outdoor concert, and the bands that aren't currently performing walk among the crowd, and you can always tell which ones are with the band. It's more than just their skinny jeans, their brother's Vans from high school, their flannel shirt and Gene Kelly's hat. Or the art students. It's more than just the mismatched hand-me-downs, the missing fingernails, or the purple hair. The writers. It's more than just the haircut from 1995, the beret, the pantsuit, and the Converse. For some reason, you recognize them. They do what they do and it's never near enough to pay the bills, but they love it too much so they still do it in addition to one or two other jobs which means that they don't have time to check up on People's latest "Style" issue.

So..... I guess..... love what you do. Whatever it is. And though people won't know your name, they'll know who you are.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Every child is an artist.

The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up. - Picasso

Lately there have been quite a few thoughts when it comes to art and storytelling. I'm reading about this guy who published a book about his life, and it made a lot of money, and people wanted to make a movie out of it, and they wanted him to write the screenplay, and what I'm reading now is a book about him writing a screenplay for the movie based on the book based on his life.

And there has been a lot of talk of writer's block (whatever that is I don't believe it exists but that's another topic) and how to deal with it. There is a discussion that involves the idea of the artist living vs. creating. If the artist tells the story, he has no time to live in it. If he lives in it, he has no time to tell the story. So what are we to do? Which is more important? Someone has to tell these stories.

But isn't it also possible that, while we are gifted in that we can speak for those with no words, it is ultimately up to an individual whether or not he would like us to speak for him? Wouldn't our time be better served if we could teach people how to tell their own stories? And if people knew how to tell their own stories, wouldn't it be much easier for all of us to tell our own stories as we live them?

Storytelling is special. It is what makes us uniquely human. It is, I believe, part of being in God's image. Being able to tell a story. Being able to live a story. But it is all too easy to think we are better than others and we are serving a better purpose in the world by locking ourselves in our rooms and "making art."

One possible interpretation of Tennyson's "Lady of Shalott" is that he felt a distance from society and could not relate to them. Thus, the Lady is cursed to stay in her room weaving constantly and can only view society from its reflection in her mirror. It's that thought of, "they just don't understand"

But isn't it our job to make them understand? It is not art if it is not an attempt to help the world understand something better or at least grapple with something complicated. No more excuses of "we're just too different" or " they won't get it."

But this book. It makes me think a lot about my story. It makes me aware that I am a character. And I have a plot.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

a lost soulmate's lament

when you leave me i cry. i stand in the empty space of this room and i'm lost. i turn around in circles in the dark and i can't find you. when you leave me i can't sleep. i don't want to eat. there's no point. i loved you with all of me and now there's a hole. and it hurts so much. i can't focus on any of the things i want to do. i don't want to do anything. why, when you live your life so far away, should i live mine? how can i be happy again? i don't want to remember our good times because it only hurts more. when you leave me i cry. and i wonder why we ever love at all when the hurt of your absence is greater than the emptiness before i found you.

Sometimes my arms aren't long enough

to reach out and gather you all
into my embrace to squeeze you tightly
to simply say "I love you this much."

I wish my arms were big enough
because nothing fully shows you
how I really feel when you're near me
or how you bring my heart its warmth.

I wish my arms were strong enough
to keep you locked inside
because I never want to let you go
to leave me and live your life.

I wish my arms were enough
to hold myself so tightly
to make up for your being away from me
and bring me the love
I miss giving to you.

Friday, September 17, 2010

"The most dangerous strategy is to jump a chasm in two leaps."

Sometimes when I write . . . I don't want to. Sometimes I stare at blank lines that look to be filled. The pen rests and stares back at me with questioning eyes. I pick up the pen with exceeding effort, and I feel like I'm peeling off pieces of myself with something really sharp. But I continue even though it gets painful. I feel like it's my life or my identity, and I must continue, I must press forward even though I have no desire or will to. I wonder if this is healthy. I wonder . . . if something is not ready to leave the safety of my self. But I still push it. For I fear that if I do not write, then I will lose the desire or the will altogether. If I do not write, if I do not force myself, the pages will never have any meaning. People look at a painting and assume it was naturally done. Maybe it was. But naturally does not always mean easy. Sometimes . . . to write is to urge something out of oneself with great pain. And the hope that someday it will be worth it.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010


"Do you say your prayers night and morning?" continued my interrogator.

"Yes, sir."

"Do you read your Bible?"
"With pleasure? Are you fond of it?"

"I like Revelations, and the book of Daniel, and Genesis and Samuel, and a little bit of Exodus, and some parts of Kings and Chronicles, and Job and Jonah."

"And the Psalms? I hope you like them?"

"No, sir."

"No? oh, shocking! I have a little boy, younger than you, who knows six Psalms by heart: and when you ask him which he would rather have, a ginger-bread nut to eat, or a verse of a Psalm to learn, he says: 'Oh! the verse of a Psalm! angels sing Psalms;' says he, "I wish to be a little angel here below;' he then gets two nuts in recompense for his infant piety."

"Psalms are not interesting," I remarked.

"That proves you have a wicked heart; and you must pray to God to change it: to give you a new and clean one: to take away your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh."
--Jane Eyre, Chapter 4

Friday, September 3, 2010


"Your eyes are windows into your body. If you open your eyes wide in wonder and belief, your body fills up with light. If you live squinty-eyed in greed and distrust, your body is a dank cellar. If you pull the blinds on your windows, what a dark life you will have!" - Jesus

I think we often forget that windows are meant to be two-way. When we think of windows, we imagine looking out. When we search for windows in Google Images, we find images of people looking out. But when Jesus starts off this announcement, it seems as if people are to look in. And he ends with saying that we need to be open so light can come in. What a dark life you will have... when you hold your money too close in greed... when you turn away from the needy stranger in distrust... when your fear takes hold of your freedom to love and be open and let somebody inside.

What happened to open doors and making too much bread or cake or tea because you could always expect somebody to stop by? Oh, nobody stops by? Maybe they want to. Maybe you just haven't made it known to them that they could. Anytime they wanted to. Of course you said, "Come by anytime!" but so does every one else. That's the equivalent of "How are you? I'm fine." Neither question or response is ever sincere. It's sincerity, people. Sincerity and integrity. Two of the three things I try to live my life by. I can't remember the third one. That's why I have them written down, but I don't have that piece of paper with me.

That's what I already miss about dorm life. As long as we were there (and even if we weren't) the TV or the computer or the microwave or the refrigerator or the bed was available. And we were available. I wish the world knew that.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Dear old world, you are lovely, and I am glad to be alive in you.

Days come when I wonder "Why am I here?" and I can't focus on anything because of that question. And then days end when a boy wants to walk me home because he's a nice boy, and for no other reason. When I reach those days where I feel like I'm losing the grip on who I am, it's refreshing to have someone else say "Your existence matters." Even if it's in the form of "Let me get some shoes and I'll walk you back." Or, It's late, and you shouldn't get raped and murdered on your way back. Whatever. I still like knowing that selfless people exist.

Also, classes are in full swing, and I still have a hard time believing that I'm back at school. 12 hours. Slow. I need papers and tests and assignments and grades. I need that stress to be in my head to say "Hey you better work hard or you'll fail and you'll be a failure for the rest of your life and your whole future will be screwed if you don't make an A on this test." I love college.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Imagining the future is a kind of nostalgia.

It is strange to me how when the moments before, my motivation level drops. I have a final tomorrow and I've yet to study. I have to wash my sheets and fold my laundry. I have to clean my room and pack up what I'm taking with me. I have to study my manual for work. I have to get out of my pj's. I have to balance my checkbook. I have to remember things forgotten. I have to get internet in my apartment. I have to wash my face. I should probably brush my teeth. I have to write.

I have to search for that long lost.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

"Let each man practice the art he knows."

Have I told anyone that I love jazz? Melody Gardot has over the past couple of months become one of my favorite new feel-breezy kinds of music. When I imagine her recording, I think she is sitting in an overstuffed armchair with a glass of wine, a cigarette, legs hanging over the side, and singing as she pleases. A quite relaxing feel.

It is an observation of mine that many would like to think art is something that overflows from a person's soul as naturally as rain falls. And I think this is true. But just because something comes from the soul, does not mean it comes easily. You see, I believe that the soul is as mysterious to it's possessor as it is to outsiders. There are many areas, dark corners, crevices and closets that one may not even dare to venture for fear of things they have a strange inkling are there, but also wish that they are not there if they were. Sometimes what we need is a full length mirror. The kind they put in dressing rooms. With the not-so-pleasant lighting that is not so pleasant because it exposes EVERYTHING from zit scars to love handles.

Unfortunately, while such mirrors are readily available for the body, the ones that are needed for the soul are not as easy to come across. And perhaps some of us are okay with that. "Oh well, guess I'll just have to go with what I see and know about myself. Why go exploring down there for things that will only hurt me and others more."

So what if we were to search for those mirrors? What if we did put on our brave faces and dig deep? Of course we would find what we feared. Wounds. That is what keeps us from exploring the soul. Wounds. If we were to travel down this road, we would have to uncover those hurts that we buried a long time ago. That breakup, that death, that fight, that betrayal, that mistake, that lie, that night. If we were to place our whole selves in front of that mirror, we would find more than we wanted to admit was still there. Leftover pieces we thought we had dealt with that were just lying around in the attics of our souls collecting dust to the point that it just blended in with the floorboards.

So for art to be true, for a creation to be sincere, the artist has to know himself completely to the point that he's not afraid to expose what he's been through and what he's done. Beauty is not in the covering up of things or the addition of new things, but in removing the dirt to reveal the original beauty that God put there. Beauty is in the process of chipping and chiseling and carving and pruning and getting messy.

I believe that the purest definition for art is anything a person does to make life beautiful, understandable or enjoyable for someone else. And your art matters. To truly do this, we have to be honest with ourselves and admit to the past and present in which we find ourselves a part.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Do I know you?

Collages I made
Mosaics I formed
Faces that should make sense

Pieces I knew
Ends I loosed
Sadly confused, clouded, and dense

An aimless day takes me to a clue
And my eyes crinkle at you
I know I should know where you belong
But I can't remember

Minds don't fit you so well anymore
Closets assume a natural habitat
Yes, I'm confused, I know that,
But Mama's calling me in for dinner.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

I'm very definitely a woman, and I enjoy it.

Don't worry, she said, I still dream.
I want to know what it is to act like a woman. I feel like my conservative Christian environment along with my liberal, modern society has it all wrong. I believe they both have elements of truth to their views on women, but I feel like all those are not enough. I find myself confused at how I'm supposed to be the very thing I am. I have all the lady parts, so why is acting like a woman not the most natural and easiest thing in the world for me? I don't believe that either of these views have the most accurate biblical ideas about femininity, and I would like to know what that is.

It is a simple answer that all answers are based on. My life's understandings will come only when I have placed my Bible at the core of my learning. Truth and femininity will meet in a beautiful embrace that will feel natural, unforced, and unexplainable. I will find my place in Heaven's kingdom as a woman and as a woman named Rebekah. So I've decided to reread two books that I've had on my bookshelf for the past 5 or 6 years. Maybe they'll make better sense to me now than they did when I was 15.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

'Tis a familiar itch.

Today was that day. I worked physically demanding all day. I worked alone all day. I thought alone all day. I had plenty of space to think of all my problems all day. I ended up being angry at every person I knew by the end of the day. And I ended up hating this town by the end of the day.

I have had these days before. I'm only concerned because they are increasing in number with each passing season. It would not be as much of a bother if they had waited until I could do something about it. But no. These days come when I feel my most trapped. My desires to see the world are staring at me in my cage, mocking me. They come to taunt me when I feel the burdens of money, class, time, and age. They laugh at me as I scrub someone else's coffee stains off the floor. They glare at me as I sweep someone else's crumbs under the rug. They smirk at me as I wash someone else's dirty laundry.

I always believed that I was one who could be content whatever the circumstances. And perhaps I used to be that one, and I've changed. Or perhaps I was never that one, and I was merely a girl deceived by her own facade. And now the shell has cracked. And now truth and dreams do not have so pleasant a meeting. It's time to leave this town. And my feet are glued. And I glued them. Perhaps the burdens of money, class, time, and age are only there because I allowed them to be. Perhaps there is nothing wrong with this town or these people, and my familiarity has calloused me.

Perhaps . . . my dreams are too big for me.

In my brokenness, I collapse on the floor heaving tears, but my anger barely allows enough to sting my eyes before they evaporate. In the night, there is nothing more beautiful than watching storm clouds glide past the moon as lightning and wind that you know came from another world sweep over the fields with a peace that comes only from those who have seen it all. I never want to feel as if I've seen it all, but I sure would like to know that peace.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

I was gratified to be able to answer promptly. I said I don't know. - Mark Twain

What's the opposite of reminiscent? Because that's the feeling I got today as I browsed through wedding photography online and created a spot on my computer for wedding ideas. Except it couldn't be reminiscent because it is not a thing of the past for me, but the future - hopefully. So what's the word for reminiscent when it's a future happening?

My sister asked me what I was doing today, and I told her. She asked if I had found the groom yet. I said it's on my to do list. No need for jokes, I get it. But that is what I said. I would post what I found, but I'm afraid one of the photographers will happen upon my blog and sue me. And I don't want anyone to steal my ideas. And yes, I get the irony of my last statement, too. So... just curious.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Of Love

I have been in love more times than one,
thank the Lord. Sometimes it was lasting
whether active or not. Sometimes
it was all but ephemeral, maybe only
an afternoon, but not less real for that.
They stay in my mind, these beautiful people,
or anyway people beautiful to me, of which
there are so many. You, and you, and you,
whom I had the fortune to meet, or maybe
missed. Love, love, love, it was the
core of my life, from which, of course, comes
the word of the heart. And, oh, have I mentioned
that some of them were men and some were women
and some -- now carry my revelation with you --
were trees. Or places. Or music flying above
the names of their makers. Or clouds, or the sun
which was the first, and the best, the most
loyal for certain, who looked so faithfully into
my eyes, every morning. So I imagine
such love of the world -- its fervency, its shining, its
innocence and hunger to give of itself -- I imagine
this is how it began.

by Mary Oliver

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Oh, you're in my veins, and I cannot get you out.

The word "summer" connotes a medley of sweet sensations for everyone. We all seem to understand eating strawberries on the porch. We all seem to know sweet tea in mason jars. We all seem to smile at the memory of watermelon stains on our white, sweaty shirts. We all love the smell of cut grass (though not necessarily the cutting of grass), the ever abundant green outside the window, the tangled hair from beach wind, and of course, the kiss of sun. And with all this is the fondness of reading a good book in the bed of an air conditioned house, homemade ice cream which tastes just as good indoors as it does when in melts in your bowl outside, and whipped cream. Always a fondness for whipped cream.

Every year when September comes through my door (yes, it comes straight through; it never knocks) I always feel as though I never got enough of summer. We are good pals, Summer and I. You see, I am a July baby, and while I do love every day of every season, I have a special connection to the mugginess and the green and the closeness of the sun's heat and light. And I am always sad to see it leave, even though I know it will soon return. I love winter, I love spring, I love autumn, but to me, they are always transitions to get me to summer - a destination of sorts. Which is true when one has the mindset of a student. I don't care what you say, summer is a destination.

In heaven, it will always be summer, and it will never be hot.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

The world is full of you, and you are just too wonderful.

Moments come into my life where I find myself surrounded by people, and I actually pay attention to them. Each one is as different from the other as a crocodile is from a mouse. But the blessings I get from simply being in their presence is just too much at times. These people are just too wonderful, and I wonder how in the world I got to be with them.

I find unique gifts and smiles and laughs and fun and I find myself falling in love, and I want to hug them all and keep them with me forever.

These people are just too wonderful, and I only wonder how I got to be here with them.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

A southern summer storm...

over as quickly as it began...